What Works: Barbara Close, Founder and CEO of Naturopathica
One benefit of working in the beauty industry for so many years is that I've encountered dozens of smart, savvy professionals (beauty company CEOs, product development VPs, power publicists, colorists, stylists, makeup artists, etc.) who've tried thousands of products and treatments, and, thus, have uber-informed beauty regimens. I've certainly swiped tips and recs from them—and now so can you. As part of a regular series, I’ll be asking inspiring, in-the-know women (all 40+, of course) to share their best tips and favorite products. The point? As always, to find out what works.
Today’s Insider: Barbara Close, 58, Founder and CEO of Naturopathica
Before clean beauty, green skincare, and cruelty-free formulas were a regular part of our lexicon, there was Barbara Close. With a Master’s Degree in Therapeutic Herbalism, as well as credentials in massage, esthetics, and aromatherapy, Barbara was an expert in treating the skin with botanical and herbal remedies long before natural skincare was trendy. She launched her brand Naturopathica in the mid 1990s and, over the ensuring 20+ years, has become one of the beauty industry’s most respected, knowledgeable and consistent proponents of holistic (outside + inside) skincare.
Today, Naturopathica boasts a comprehensive collection of topical and herbal skin and wellness formulas, as well as two spas: one in in Manhattan and one in East Hampton. Naturopathica is also carried at more than 400 spas, including Canyon Ranch, Blackberry Farms, and The Lake Austin Spa Resort— and Barbara has written three books, the latest of which, The Naturopathica Effect: A Holistic Approach to Skin Health, just hit shelves. I got an early copy and found that just flipping through Barbara’s friendly advice and sublime photos was like soaking in a warm bath while drinking an adaptogen smoothie. So relaxing. And if words and images alone can dial down my cortisol production, imagine what putting her advice into practice might do.
Looking at Barbara herself is also evidence that she’s on to something that works. I first met her in the late 1990s, a few years after Naturopathica launched. And I can tell you I’ve aged since then, but she really hasn’t. She is still just as energetic and optimistic—and looks like someone who could run ten miles, swim three more in the ocean, then, without even needing to sit down, whip up a delicious, nutritious post-workout snack in her Hamptons kitchen. Eager to know how she stays so vital? You’ll find lots of helpful info in Barbara’s aforementioned book (I, for one, can’t wait to try her Vitality Bites recipe on page 117)—as well as lots of great tips and products recs right here. Just keep reading.
Slough enough “As I’ve reached what I call ‘the afternoon’ of my life, I’m a big believer in exfoliation—my skin cells just don’t turn over as quickly as they once did,” says Barbara. “One of my favorite ways to do this is with my Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel. I use it in the shower two to three times a week, where the steam helps activate the enzymes.”
Always use protection “As a trained esthetician, I know the importance of sunscreen. And, as an avid horseback rider, I am outside a lot. So, I apply sunscreen every single day. Right now I am using our Daily UV Defense Cream SPF 50. I like it because it uses micronized zinc, which is non-irritating and blends easily.” Note from Genevieve: This product clearly has a loyal following as it’s currently sold out. I’m told it will be restocked next month. As an alternative, the perfect-for-everyday Lavender Protective Moisturizer SPF 17 will be restocked within a week.
Prioritize beauty sleep “I believe getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night is very important. So, on nights when I am feeling restless or am battling a chatty mind, I use my Passionflower Sleep Tincture; Passionflower is a sedative herb. I add two dropperfuls to tea or water before bed. I will also do this if I wake in the middle of the night and am having trouble going back to sleep.”
Find exercise you enjoy “I’ve always been really active. In college, I played field hockey, and I’ve been a runner most of my life. But I am not interested in fitness anymore unless it’s fun. So, in the mornings, I do what my staff calls ‘senior gym.’ I get out of bed and do yoga with my two Dachshunds, who will roll around on the mat with me. Sometimes the three of us will also go outside running, looking for squirrels and rabbits. And I have three horses that I ride several times a week. I still do run on my own as well, but not as much. And when I do run now, I like to do trail running so I can get out into the elements.”
Eat clean but keep it real “I live with someone who was the son of a butcher, and he likes to eat meat and dumplings. He is also an amazing cook. But I can’t eat that way all the time. So, I try to eat relatively clean Monday through Friday with a plan that I outline in my new book. Then, on the weekends, I relax the rules a little.”
Pull out all the stops before you go to sleep “I am a low-maintenance gal. I don’t wear much makeup and have very short hair. I keep most things simple. But I am serious about skincare. In the morning, I like to get up and go, so most of my skincare rituals happen in the evening. Before bed, I start by cleansing with my Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm, which contains mango butter and royal jelly. I believe it helps balance out the skin’s microbiome. The idea of using probiotics in skincare is relatively new, and I don’t think the science is quite there yet. But I do believe in paying attention to the ecology of the skin and making sure everything is in balance: bacteria, pH levels, and hydration. I follow that with my Retinol Renewal Concentrate. It has Retinol, of course, plus Vitamin C and a high concentration of Hyaluronic Acid, which acts like a super sponge, drawing in moisture and plumping up the skin. I finish with a layer of my Calendula Hydrating Cream. My skin is dryer now that I’ve passed menopause, and this cream is very nourishing. It also contains calming herbs, which are good for bedtime.”
Indulge in a good soak “I have to get in the bathtub daily—an aromatherapy bath using oils or bath flakes is very healing for me at the end of the day. Lately I’ve been using my Lavender Blossom Bath and Body Oil, which is crisp and clean.
Stay hungry “One thing that has surprised me about aging is my sense of resiliency. I always viewed getting older as becoming more fragile—or starting to not to do things because of a fear of getting hurt. But I’ve not encountered that. I’m still an avid horseback rider, I still like putting myself out there.”
Speak up “I imagine most of us would say one thing that’s great about aging is the wisdom that comes with it. And certainly that’s true. But I think what I like even more is the confidence to speak my mind. As a creative person, when I was younger, I was reluctant to take risks. But I don’t worry about that any longer.”
Define aging gracefully yourself “Aging well to me is not about wrinkles and lines, it’s about having the energy to do what I want to do. And I thank my lucky stars that I’ve found a way that works for me to do this—and I’m in a position to educate others about how to feel this way too.”
Don’t be so strict “A friend and mentor once taught me a phrase that stuck: Everything is moderation—even moderation. Here, in the U.S., we tend to adopt a very Puritan sense of what it means to be healthy: It’s all or nothing. But I believe the body can handle a few vices now and then. Enjoy a nice glass of wine, just don’t overdo it. You must enjoy life.”
Take care of your color “I’m currently a platinum blonde and I like to keep the tone almost blueish blonde. Maintaining this color does require work! So I wear a hat when I go outdoors, and I use purple-blue conditioner once a week to keep it from yellowing. Currently I like L’Oreal EverPure Blonde Conditioner.”
Add a little lipcolor “I don’t really wear makeup but I do like a little color on my lips. For everyday, I use a neutral shade, Jane Iredale PureMoist in Sarah. For evenings out, I apply NARS Lipstick in Falbala.”
Bend in the wind “My motto is that which adapts thrives. I believe that remaining flexible, both in body and mind, is key to staying healthy as we age.”